Of Pen and Ink – Story Gap

I mentioned Robert McKee’s story when I did a piece on Beats, Scenes and Sequences. Now I’d like to address another aspect of writing: The Story Gap.

The Story Gap is what McKee calls the gap between a character’s actions and the world’s reactions. This is yet another thing that I try to ensure is happening when I go through to check that my scenes are turning. In essence, this should have a place in a good scene without too much extra work on your part.

I’ll let Robert put it in his own words via the YouTube video.

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Tools of the Craft: Introduction to Scrivener

As a writer, I’ve been using Microsoft Word for decades. I’ve written everything from my highschool and college exams to character backgrounds and drafts of important forum posts on it. And, of course, my stories.

It’s certainly not all I’ve ever known. I’ve dabbled with a few other word processors, but not specifically for writing fiction and not with a terribly great deal of energy. Usually it will be a passing, quick review. Enough to let me know what I think of it, but never enough to truly know it. Then I started hearing about Scrivener.

I wasn’t sure about this one. I love the idea of new toys, but they are often just that – something I toy with for a few hours and then forget. It rusts on my hard drive for a matter of months before I end up culling it in my next search for free space. And then my wife happened to be talking with a coworker about writing, and she said she uses Scrivener. And it had a free 30 day trial.

Like all software trials, I figured this was a narrow window to see if I really like a thing. But after hesitating for a few more weeks and reading a couple reviews on the program, I ended up giving in to my curiosity. Then I discovered it. It was a 30 day trial, but not a bomb-timer sort of trial, with the countdown ever looming overhead and urging you to make the most of your time while you still can. No, this is a stopwatch trial. If you use it a day, then walk away for a week, you still have 29 days remaining. Plus you can still export any work even when the trial is expended, so if you did produce anything useful, you can get it into another file format to continue working on it there should you decide not to purchase the program in full.

Scrivener in a very complicated, spaceage layout. Don’t let it intimidate you, it doesn’t look like that very often. (Unless you want it to)

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Some other Self-Published Author has …erm… self-published

Awesome news! Imminent Danger is officially available for purchase!

Well, that is what I would say if I were truly thrilled about it. You know, like if it were mine or something. But in all seriousness, you should check it out. I think its always cool when someone achieves book release.

Also, I’m not sharing this to get any drawings for a free magnet. I repeat, no free magnets in the drink nearest you.

~Meredith Purk

Of Pen and Ink – The Ever-Changing Anatomy of Creativity: Part 2

I’ve discussed this once before, when I talked about how my main novel started as a fiction submission for Wizards of the Coast’s shared world book line.

Now I’d like to talk about how even the story line itself has transmuted considerably. Since my protagonist has his origins as a character I created for a roleplaying game, it’s only natural that he was in his prime. Twenty-three, I believe, in his first inception, while I was only 15. This makes sense because in a fantasy roleplaying world of danger, an adventurer has to be old enough to hold his own. So his original story line was thusly based off some of his pen and paper adventures, including an antagonist that mirrored his personality. (A little cliché, looking back – probably inspired by the similarities and disparities between Drizzt Do’Urden and Artemis Entreri, from R. A. Salvatore’s books.)

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Of Pen and Ink – The Math of Self Publishing

Let’s talk numbers – yes, not everyone likes math, I get that. But this is money numbers. Some people like money, right?

For self-published authors, a concern that often arises is, how do you price your products? I’m not going to go into much on the ins and outs of book pricing. All I will say is that you should avoid undervaluing your work. Provided you’ve thoroughly edited your book, worked it to ensure that the plot devices and reader interest is there, then selling the digital version at .99 cents is cheating yourself and promoting the idea that your (and other authors’) blood, sweat and tears should be sold on the cheap.

On the other end of the spectrum, eBooks should be significantly less expensive than paperback or hardcover copies. $15 or $12.99 for an eBook is the equivalent of information-highway robbery. The comfortable zone is probably somewhere between $2.99 and $9.99, and that’s all I’ll say.

Now, on to some math. I use some of my college accounting class know-how when I play with numbers on my own. Something that is important to me when looking at a venture is the Break Even Point, or BEP. BEP is a calculation of approximately how many copies or units you would need to sell to break even (pay off your costs) on a project. At the true BEP you haven’t made a profit; that comes at points above the BEP. Conversely, below the BEP and you are still in red ink, the dreaded loss. See More

Of Pen and Ink – Beats, Scenes and Sequences

A question emerges, and I have to ask it not only of myself, but of others: We often use the term scene when we talk about our stories. But do you write your fiction novel in scenes, sequences and beats?

Screenplays are assumed to be written thus, but I often wonder about other forms of story. They can all share some of these traits and benefit from them, as pacing and development is as important in a book as it is in a movie or play. But in a novel – as with any form of story – what comes first? Form or function? See More

Road to the Self-Published Author – Print Wrap-up

It’s been quite a long time coming, but here’s my wrap-up to the print (i.e., hardcopy) books. I tried to keep this specific and helpful, yet generic enough that it can apply to other distribution/print on demand, or vanity press options beyond what we used. My tips assume you are formatting fiction prose of some sort (and using Microsoft Word or something similar to boot), but could be adapted to non-fiction or even poetry. Something more abstract from a writing point of view, such as a photography book, however, will probably not benefit as much.

Print Formatting – Basics

Writing in general has a lot of passes involved in it – rough drafts, proofreading, etc. As the prose itself progresses, the manuscript changes quite a bit. The first hurdle, then, is to know what its final form should be. And I don’t mean insofar as the content, just the layout. See More